Thursday, September 22, 2005

Errant strand of hair

It was her husband’s birthday, yet it was she who felt older somehow. She looked at the sink full of dishes, clothes that either needed to be washed, ironed or folded; mixed together in a sickening mound of natural and man made fibres. But first – dinner. The fridge was almost empty. A gnarled radish sat forlorn in the corner. Potatoes past their shelf life let out a faint, radio active green gleam. ‘Beggars can’t be choosers’ she thought, hating herself immediately for the cliché.

Maybe she wouldn’t cook tonight she thought. But as she rifled through the take away menus, a wave of guilt flooded her. No she would cook herself, hoping the action would help her gain acceptance in the eyes of all those wives before her. Women who had set the bar far too high for her petite 5 foot 2 frame.

Proceedings were slow in the kitchen that night. The radioactive potatoes began to look like nuclear waste as they boiled, and her recalcitrant pressure cooker refused to open. After an hour of simmering and sautéing, she settled down in front of the tv, meal on lap, channel tuned to a hindi serial. She had gotten used to eating with the cast of weeping bahus and tyrannical saasu-mas.

Meal and melodrama over, she looked with dread at kitchen sink. ‘I’ll do it tomorrow she thought. Who says they have to be done tonight?’ She waited a moment, almost expecting a benign spirit to pop through the woodwork and state that one of the tenets of being a good housewife washing the vessels every night.

She trudged upstairs to fold and hang the clothes up to dry. She looked at the guest room bed, and could hardly make out the silk duvet under all the clothes. As she sat folding and sorting them out, she felt that first ominous pang of emotion. She was going to cry. She swallowed the lump in her throat and began hanging the clothes out to dry on the radiator. She felt the first tear roll down her throat and knew it was useless holding the others back. She sat on the edge of the bed, the damp baniyan in her hand and sobbed. She didn’t know how long she sat there like that, crying and wiping the tears away with a freshly laundered sock.

The feelings subsided. She washed her face, brushed her teeth and oiled her hair. Tucking the unnamed emotions away as one would an errant strand of hair.


cheti said...

nice ! very very realistic !

jenn see said...

very painful. which means it's incredibly powerful.

Ash said...

very moving.

ammani said...

The thing to do on such days is to do precisely what her heart
says...leave the sink piled high, the clothes in an unsorted mountain
and indulge in a little sloth, Else she will end up resenting herself and the bar that she has set for herself. I think we are our biggest critics. Those housewives are not going to come around snooping her house. The rules are all inside our heads. If we must realise that we cannot do it all, we can breathe a little easy. And accept that it's okay to let a little dust gather
behind the fridge.

kaaju katli said...

Evocatively written! Everyone needs a little guilt-free pity party time, but how often we do we allow ourselves to take it?

TomCruiseChellum said...

Overlooking from the angst (is that the word ? I studied my English in the late 50s)the following questions need to be sorted.
1. Why did she have her dinner alone?
2.Where was the B day Hubby?
3. What was he doing?
TCChellumm has been married (rather happily and cheerily) for the best of 3 decades and believes in being upclose to Mrs Chellum in such hours of need.

Shyam said...

Y'know, that little sloth I indulged in some time ago - well, it's been given permanent leave to stay in my house :D

apu said...

SF, very well put...I like the 'recalcitrant pressure cooker'..

TC Chellum, you broke my heart :-))

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

cheti, jenn see, ash - thanks... i think :)

ammani, kaaju, shyam - more power to such sentiments! let the sloth within be unleashed

tc - mrs chellum is one lucky lady

apu - thanks... i'll let tc address the other concern :))

Ideamani said...

Dear Shoe Fiend, on an unrelated topic, Sunday is the final day for the Project Why raffle and we would appreciate if you could post a reminder about it on ur blog !

Thanks ..

Sujatha said...

Let the sloth within be unleashed is right! It took me a long while to get there, in fact, still making my way there...

Nicely written piece. May be you could flesh it out a little bit with the husband's part.

Sonia Faleiro said...

Enjoyed this a lot. Beautiful writing.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Try a stiff gin.
Better still, try three.

And hey, I like Akshay Kumar. (Twinkle, even!)


velvetbabe said...

been there too, in marriage.

this is the moment that you realize what your role as wife is going to be.

go read "Absolut Wife" of mine.

that is a moment a little like this.

fabulous writing!

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